Storm snowfall nears record
March 9, 2023
Last week’s snow storm marked the fourth highest snowfall in a 48-hour period after 21.9 inches of snow fell in two days at Haines weather station two, according to NOAA data that goes back about two decades. The record was set on Jan. 12, 2010 when 34 inches of snow fell during the same time period.
The measurements were taken from Jim Green’s home on West Fair Drive. Other weather observers recorded even larger amounts. Erik Stevens, a volunteer observer for Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network (CoCoRaHS) measured 32.8 inches in two days from his Skyline subdivision home.
“This storm really only hit right in Haines,” Stevens said. “I think there was a lot more snow closer to the Portage Cove and possibly on the peninsula.”
Stevens said he heard accounts of 40 or more inches of snow in some areas. He said that depth could be caused by wind loading or snow blowing off a roof onto a deck where many people measure. He added that snow can settle and lose 12 to 15% of its height within a 24-hour period.
“If you were to only measure once in 24 hours that snow has 24 hours to settle,” Stevens said. “It’s easy to lose between five, six or seven inches of snow if you don’t measure frequently.”
Stevens measured every 12 hours. Green said the dry snow traps air as it piles up. As time passes and the temperature fluctuates, the snow settles. Green said as of Wednesday, March 8, the snow depth has settled 10 inches since the storm, from 45 inches to 35 inches.
Green said the bulk of the snow, 20.6 inches, fell in a 24-hour period, which makes the March 2 storm the sixth largest dump based on NOAA records. The record was set on Jan. 26, 2020 when 23.5 inches of snow fell in a 24-hour period.
“We seem to be in the bullseye as far as Southeast Alaska,” Green said. “I believe we got as much or more as anybody as far as I can tell. A lot of places got hit pretty hard, all the way from Petersburg on up.”
Green said the storm didn’t meet the National Weather Service’s definition of a blizzard, which is sustained winds of 35 miles per hour or more, visibility of one quarter mile or less due to snow or blowing snow for a minimum of three hours. Green said winds reached speeds of 20-25 mile per hour at the airport.
Stevens said more CoCoRaHS observers are needed in Haines and encouraged interested residents to volunteer. More information can be found at cocorahs.org.